Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), also known as acid reflux, is a condition in which the contents of the stomach are returned to the esophagus. This can happen when the lower esophageal sphincter, which acts as a valve between the stomach and the esophagus, does not close properly. When this happens, acidic stomach contents can rise up into the esophagus, causing heartburn and other symptoms. GERD is a common condition, affecting up to 20% of adults in the United States. It is most common in people over the age of 40 and is more common in women than men. GERD can be mild or severe and can lead to complications if left untreated. There are several things that can contribute to GERD, including obesity, pregnancy, smoking, and certain medications. Treatment for GERD often includes lifestyle changes, such as diet and weight loss, as well as medication. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to correct the underlying problem.
What is GERD?
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a condition where stomach acid and partially digested food is pushed back up from the stomach into the esophagus. This can cause heartburn, chest pain, and damage to the lining of the esophagus. GERD is common, affecting about 20% of Americans.
Causes of GERD
There are a number of different factors that can contribute to GERD. Some of the most common include: -A hiatal hernia, which is when part of the stomach bulges up into the chest through an opening in the diaphragm -Pregnancy -Overeating or eating large meals -Eating certain foods, such as fatty or fried foods, citrus fruits, chocolate, mint, garlic, onions, or spicy foods -Drinking certain beverages, such as alcohol, carbonated drinks, coffee, or tea – being overweight or obese -Smoking cigarettes -Certain medications, such as anticholinergics, beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers, corticosteroids, progesterone, and some antidepressants
Symptoms of GERD
The most common symptom of GERD is frequent heartburn. Other signs and symptoms may include regurgitation of sour food or liquid, difficulty swallowing, coughing, wheezing and chest pain. Some people with GERD experience no symptoms at all. In fact, GERD is often first diagnosed in people who seek medical help for other problems such as chest pain that they think might be a heart attack.
Treatment of GERD
If you have GERD, your first line of defense should be to cut back on fatty, fried, and spicy foods; chocolate; mint; garlic; onions; caffeine; alcohol; and other foods that seem to trigger heartburn for you. Some people find relief by switching to a mostly organic diet. You might also be able to manage your symptoms by losing weight, if you are overweight, and by avoiding foods that seem to make your symptoms worse. Some people find relief by raising the head of their bed 6 to 8 inches with wood blocks or metal risers. Others find relief by sleeping on their left side.
Eating smaller meals more often and avoiding eating late at night can also help. And don’t lie down right after eating—wait at least three hours before you hit the sack. If changing your diet and lifestyle habits doesn’t help, your doctor might recommend medications. The options include: -H2 blockers. These drugs reduce acid production by blocking histamine2, a chemical that stimulates the release of stomach acid. H2 blockers include cimetidine (Tagamet HB), famotidine (Pepcid AC), nizatidine (Axid AR), and ranitidine (Zantac 75). -Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). These drugs block acid production more effectively than H2 blockers. They include omeprazole (Prilosec OTC), lansoprazole (Prevacid 24 HR), rabeprazole (Aciphex), esomeprazole (Nexium 24HR), dexlansoprazole (Dexilant), and pantoprazole (Protonix). -Coating agents. These drugs coat the lining of your esophagus to help protect it from stomach acid..
Prevention of GERD
There are a few things you can do to prevent GERD or reduce the symptoms. Some lifestyle changes that may help include: -Eating smaller meals -Avoiding eating late at night -Not eating too close to bedtime -Avoiding trigger foods -Limiting alcohol consumption -Quitting smoking
In conclusion, gastroesophageal reflux disease is a condition that can cause significant discomfort and, in some cases, serious health complications. While there are many possible causes of GERD, such as diet and lifestyle choices, the most important thing you can do is work with your doctor to find the best treatment plan for you. With proper treatment, most people with GERD are able to manage their symptoms and enjoy a good quality of life.